Claremont Depot gets a touch-up

The 128-year-old Claremont Depot, which over the years has undergone a full reconstruction and multiple face-lifts, now faces further need of repair. This time, the culprit is a leaky roof.

The leak, which has since been repaired by the city, left noticeable water damage to the historic ceiling.

First built in 1887 by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, the original depot was a simple wooden structure done in the Gothic style. In 1927, the station was moved 100 feet to the east and designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival-style by Santa Fe staff.

This new design incorporated intricate concrete Churrigueresque trim and elaborate doors carved with Santa Fe’s cross and circle logo, as well as a lavishly painted ceiling. The Depot, which was built at the height of the Spanish Colonial Revival period, reflects the Spanish heritage of California and was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Due to its historical significance, the city has brought in restoration specialist Linnaea Dix Dawson from Silverlake Conservation to facilitate repairs to the ceiling, which features a combination of geometric and floral embellishments.

Scaffolding has been erected to provide access to the ceiling. Ms. Dawson believes the main problem is the plaster, which has separated due to the water damage.

Conservation technician Eric Sarbach and Ms. Dawson are busy stabilizing the plaster with a complex application of multiple adhesives. Once the plaster is secure, they will try and save as much of the original paint as possible with a variety of techniques. The final step is what Ms. Dawson calls “visual reintegration,” or the process of applying new paint and materials to make the restored spot look like it belongs.

“We want it to look like it is in good condition but not new—more like the old ceiling it is,” says Ms. Dawson.

She relates that the original design was painted using a stencil technique, which should not be too difficult to replicate. Thanks to a repeating motif, Ms. Dawson is able to compare and contrast leaving the usual guesswork out of this project.

While her efforts are not the first, Ms. Dawson hopes that her work will integrate seamlessly and age gracefully with the existing ceiling. She will take steps to make sure anything her team does can be undone without damaging the original painting.

Work is expected to be done in time for the Claremont Pie Festival on Saturday, March 14. For information, contact the Community Services Department at (909) 399-5431.

—Jessica Gustin Pfahler


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